Today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I'm going to be looking at three ways the menopause can make brain function worse.
Brain fog is one of the most frustrating, distressing, and upsetting symptoms of menopause. And the majority of women will experience this at some point during their menopause.
Brain fog is a term used to describe several menopause symptoms that can affect your ability to think, including forgetfulness, memory loss, difficulty in concentration, and difficulty in thinking clearly.
What causes brain fog during menopause?
Poor circulation is a common problem as you age and this is one of the main causes of brain fog. That's because your circulation delivers oxygen to your brain - so poorer circulation can affect your mental function and makes it harder to think clearly.
Oestrogen, too, stimulates neurotransmitters in the brain. When our oestrogen starts to decline during menopause, then this area of neurotransmission slows down, and that can have quite a big impact on our cognitive functions generally.
What can make brain fog worse?
While poor circulation and falling oestrogen levels are the main causes of brain fog, three things can make your brain fog even worse during menopause. But, thankfully once you know what they are, you can address them and stop them from impacting your ability to think and concentrate.
1. Not drinking enough water
Many studies have found that dehydration can affect your motor coordination, problem-solving, and also your ability to pay attention.1 Even mild dehydration, being as little as 2% dehydrated, can have a huge impact on brain function, as well as just about everything else in the menopause, too.
And for those of you who've been following me for a while, you will know just how important water is for absolutely everything.
What can help?
So, the really important thing for this one is to make sure you are hydrated. Drink plenty of plain water, over and above your other drinks.
One of the best secrets to keeping your brain in tip-top order is to have a large glass of water first thing in the morning. Have it by your bedside. Put it there at night-time and the minute your feet touch the floor in the morning, have that first drink of water. And that gets your whole body nicely hydrated for the rest of the day.
2. Becoming more stressed and anxious
Again, studies have shown that stress and anxiety can impair cognitive function, including your memory.2
It can cause mental slowness. It can cause confusion, forgetfulness, and it's much harder to concentrate and to learn new things. Because if you're stressed and anxious, that impairs the ability for new information to be stored into your brain.
Especially at the moment for those of you who are still stuck in lockdown, like me, extra stress and anxiety in this situation can make our brain function worse. And I have spoken to numerous colleagues over the last few days and all of us admit that our brain function has decreased over the last few weeks.
Simple things can cause this. When we are at home all the time, our daily routine has completely changed. It's amazing how many things we do on automatic pilot when we have been out and come home again, such as where we put our car keys, where we put our bag and our purse, and other little things.
But because our whole day and our whole routine have changed, then we end up not going down that route. And we put all the things that we need in places and then, we simply forget where we put them. And that causes more stress and anxiety.
Another thing that can happen in this situation is that when we're out and about, our brain gets really good breaks. You might walk into work. You might go on the bus. So, your brain function at different times of the day can be in a very different state of alertness, or calm, or relaxation.
Whereas if you're at home all the time, then very often, your brain is working on the same level and that will interfere with your concentration, and your focus, and your memory.
What can help?
If you're still stuck at home, make sure you have little breaks. Do little routines rather than being stuck in front of the TV, or the radio, or just reading.
At the minute, where I am, the weather is lovely. So, I'm going out for my coffee break, sitting in the garden, listening to the birds, having a little read of something not to do with work, and then I'm trying to get out to walk at lunchtime. So, breaking up the day can help to keep your memory and your brain function on top of things here.
Other things that can help ease stress and anxiety; remember your deep breathing. You can also look at calming herbs such as Avena sativa which is in our Avencalm, which is lovely for stress and anxiety.
3. Not getting a good night sleep
Poor sleep can interfere with brain function and it's no surprise. If you have bad nights and you're tossing and turning, you're already tired and maybe in a bit of a low mood to start with. And that is going to affect your brain function, too.
Studies have also found that when we learn something new, there's a different process of where the information goes into the brain and where it's stored at the end of the day. And they found that poor sleep can interfere with our short-term memory, things that we've learned during the day being stored where we can retrieve them at another time of the day.3
So, if you are not getting enough sleep, that's going to have quite a big effect on your memory, learning new things, and also being able to retrieve the things that you have learned.
What can help?
If you're having problems sleeping, we have our licensed product Dormeasan, which is a natural sleep remedy.
I've also done several blogs on how to have a good routine at night and how to improve your sleep during menopause, so please have a look at these for lots of tips and advice:
How to sleep better during menopause
Struggling to get to sleep? Tips & tricks to help
When to consult a doctor?
If you find that your memory is getting really bad, if it's starting to concern you, if other people are getting concerned as well, then this is the point where you must go and speak to your doctor. Very often, it's just a combination of everything that's going on, the low hormones, the stress, and the poor sleep.
But if you are worried, that's going to add extra stress and anxiety, and that's just going to compound the problems. So please do seek some kind of medical advice.
So, I hope this has been a little bit of help for you. For those of you who have found ways of overcoming your memory loss, forgetfulness, and foggy brain, please share those tips with us in the comment section below. We would love to hear about them. And until next time, take care.